Peter stood rooted in place, fear mingled with awe registering on his face. Reason told him it wasn't possible, but his heart wanted *so* badly to believe. He had grieved for his brother, more than anyone could possibly know.
But David was dead. And he hated David for being dead. He hurt for him as well. For a split second, though, in a dusty sanctuary surrounded by family and enemies, he felt a glimmer of hope. Hope that his brother was standing behind him. As a reflex almost, he glanced over his shoulder. Then the expression on his face turned to blistering anger and he roared.
"G**damn you, John!!" He stalked over to his little brother. Betrayal was one thing, but playing on his most personal vulnerability was unbearable. "I knew I was walking into a trap, but I didn't think you would be a party to setting it." Peter grabbed the young man by his arm - his hurt arm, and dragged him over to where JD lay.
"What . . . Peter, I never said . . ."
"Peter!" Ma Nichols stood slowly. "Unhand your brother this minute." Her face cringed. "And don't dare profane the Name of God in His own House."
Just as quickly, Peter let go of his brother, and maniacally approached his mother. "It was you then. I should have known. You'd do anything to keep me from succeeding, isn't that right, Ma? I couldn't be David. I can't be David. And here we are, Ma. We've defeated the 'Larabee gang.' We're three bullets away from sending all of them to Hell. But you won't let me have that glory, will you, Ma? Three bullets away." He paused and an twisted grin crossed his face. " Well, I could make it four and send you with 'em."
"Back off, Peter," Matthew cried and he and Luke insinuated themselves between him and their mother.
"What do you think you're gonna do about it, Matthew, huh?" Peter looked beyond him and addressed their mother again.
"You told this kid about David's nickname, didn't you? You told him so you could manipulate me-- so I'd think David was . . . reaching out from beyond the grave?"
Fury radiated from Peter Nichols' eyes. Suddenly he grabbed Luke's revolver and spun around to aim it at JD. "Maybe it *is* time to shoot the 'messenger'." He laughed as Buck and Chris took their aim as well. Casey felt a tangible fear grip her throat, but Sister Sophia put her arm around the girl, drawing her close. The placating light that encompassed Sister Sophia and JD seemed almost to protect them. Why didn't Peter see it? Couldn't he see it? Casey's fear abated a bit as the Sister drew her into the light as well.
"Don't," JD said, his soft voice like a panacea. "Not until you hear . . . "
"Hear what?!!" Peter waved the gun. "That my dead brother David wants to save the day? That he wants 'Petes' to lay down his weapon, and 'make nice' with the men who slaughtered his brothers?! Well, surprise, you little shit, I've f***ing heard enough!"
Ma Nichols' own fury erupted. "Peter Nichols, you will take that forked tongue out of this hallowed place this minute."
Peter took a step closer to JD and clicked the hammer. JD grabbed Buck's hand to prevent him from firing, then he glanced at Chris. "No, . . ." JD said quickly, and the gunslinger grit his teeth, once again respecting the kid's wishes. Casey encircled JD in her arms protectively.
"What about your oath?" JD's voice quivered.
Peter stopped cold and blinked. "Huh?" Could he even find his voice? "What?"
"The oath of the elder brothers . . to protect the younger ones."
Peter shook his head. "No . . . no, you . . .can't . . . "
"Like the . . ." JD paused, listened to someone feed him the phrases, " . ..the mighty warriors of the . . ."
"Dear God," he said, stepping closer.
JD's voice was quaking. ". . . Sons of the Conquistador." Peter joined the recitation, tears rolling down his face. "Together til forever . . .still forever when . . . we . . . die."
The fiercest of the Nichols boys looked around the room with an expression on his face which could only be described as awestruck. It was as though he was searching for an explanation in the faces of his brothers. And he spoke softly to his mother, "No one else could know . . ."
Peter kept watching his mother as JD continued. "He says you gotta make things right. You gotta take care . . . of your brothers. You're all they they have left."
Peter's gaze returned to the dying boy in the bed. "You're the big brother, now," JD said, struggling to pull himself up. "Buck . . ."
"Right here, kid." As Buck was helping JD sit up more comfortable, he spoke to Peter. "Mind not pointing that thing at him."
It was as though Peter had forgotten he was even holding a gun. He handed it to Buck, never taking his eyes off the boy. "Where is he?" Peter's voice was little more than a whisper. JD's answer was just as soft. "Right beside you."
Peter's question was crisp. "Why did he have to die?"
"He wants to know why you're refusing to live?"
A flash of anger. "I've been avenging him. I've been doing God's work."
For the first time JD's face clouded. "Look at me. Is this God's work?" Peter looked away, but JD's voice called him back. "Why did you have to hurt me? Did I ever do anything to you?" Peter's mouth dropped open. JD's voice grew softer. "David wants to know why you sent Johnny to take my eyes. He says you shouldn't ever have asked him to do something so evil. You need to be looking out for him. Keeping him safe. Not making him do something like that. Especially to someone who's innocent." JD looked at him, searching his eyes. "Why did you . . . " JD had to pause a minute. He used Buck's strong arm for leverage as he confronted his tormentor. "Why did you torture me?"
For the first time, in his entire life, he felt true remorse. Not for JD maybe, not yet. But for his brothers. For his mother.
Peter's answer was as honest as he knew how to be. "You were . . . the enemy."
A tear rolled down JD's face. "Whose enemy?"
Peter shook his head. "It doesn't matter anymore."
"When I die, doesn't it matter?" JD's lip quivered. Buck stroked the kid's hair. He couldn't keep the anger out of his eyes as he watched Peter Nichols try to explain something that couldn't be.
"I . . . don't know what to say." A sob rose to Peter Nichols' throat.
"David was there when you were . . . hitting me." It was painful for JD to remember. "When you kept hitting me. It hurt. So much. And it hurt him. Because he knows you're better than that, Peter. He watched John stab at my face. John was trying to please you. But he couldn't do it. And David was there when you tied me up in that tree." Casey looked bitterly at the man who had hurt JD so. It killed her to hear the details. Ma was praying as she listened. Buck turned tearful eyes toward Chris.
"But he also knows," JD's voice grew stronger. "You have a good heart." He couldn't tell where the surge of strength was coming from - from the Light, Sophia, God? But he was strong enough to keep going. "David knows your heart. He knows the good in you. He knows you love your mother and your brothers. But you gotta make things right now."
"David was the only one who ever saw anything good in me. And when he was gone, I just couldn't . . . " Big sobs racked the man's body. "God, I miss him. I don't know how to be without him." He looked up at Sister Sophia, as though she would somehow know a divine reason for this. " When that man killed him, I kept wondering why God didn't take me. Why David? David was the good one. The only thing I knew to do was avenge him."
Chris Larabee spoke softly. "But Hank Connelly was sick. He didn't know what he was doing."
"Why did God let David die?!!" Peter turned to Josiah--the man his mother seemed to trust. "Why?" He looked around the room and went to stand by Ezra. "This man sinned, so I made him die."
JD shut his eyes tightly as he listened to the voice that only he could hear. "David was there when you took it upon yourself to render justice to Ezra." The kid could hardly bear to hear of the gambler's suffering. "He watched you beat him. He watched you throw all of your hate and anger into hurting him. And he wants to know that . . . with every blow, you damaged your soul far more than you could damage anyone's body. It is not for you to take Ezra's hands, or to cut out his tongue. 'Vengeance is mine' saith the Lord. Not yours, Peter. No human should take that kind of judgement upon his own shoulders."
Peter turned to his mother. "So I sin--and God lets me live." He walked slowly back to JD. "David doesn't sin, but God lets him get shot down in cold blood. Why? Why am I alive?"
JD took a gasping breath. "But David is alive . . . He's with God. He's with you. And he wants you to live. He wants you to be a good and Godly man." JD started fading. "Make things right, Peter. Make things right."
Peter's big shoulders shook and he turned away, sobbing. With hesitant steps, with eyes filled, with hands empty and outstretched, John Nichols approached JD. He couldn't even find his voice. "Please . . . " He coughed awkwardly and tried again. "I am so sorry that I hurt you. I am sorry for all the pain I've caused you and your friends." The youngest of the Nichols fell to his knees at JD's bedside. "We were so wrong to do what we did to you. I just wanted . . . " John glanced back at Peter. "I just wanted my brothers to be proud of me. I didn't even think about what it would cost you. I'm so sorry." John's clear, pained blue eyes met JD's hazel ones. "Your face. I .. . "
"It's all right now."
"Please forgive me."
JD's ashen face mocked John's request. John had participated in killing this boy. Yet, JD was hanging on for the sake of their salvation. The dying boy reached out for John's hand. With the slightest thread of a sound, JD answered him. "I forgive you." John was so touched, he bowed his head in humility, and he stood and started to back away. But JD wouldn't release his hand. "David's proud of you, John. He . . . says that it takes . . . a real man . . . to humble himself. He . . . loves you." JD squeezed his hand then let go.
Peter had been listening. "I led my brothers into this life. What have I done?" He threw his head back and cried out in a tortured voice. "Oh, God, forgive me . . . " His lips quivered. "Please . . ." And he fell to the floor, sobbing. "Forgive me," he repeated.
"He already has," Sister Sophia said, at the exact same moment that JD slumped against Buck, the last bit of life drained from him.
"JD," Buck said, cradling the boy in his arms. "JD," he said, more loudly, and he shook the body slightly. "Oh, God . . ." Buck bent his head down over the black-haired boy. He looked up at Chris, and his old friend nodded.
"JD?" Casey looked at JD then to Buck. "What?" She looked back at JD and listened to Buck's words, not wanting to believe them, yet knowing they were true. "He's gone, little girl." Her lips quivered. Sister Sophia had gone over to Peter Nichols, resting a gentle hand on his shoulder and Casey suddenly felt her immediate absence acutely and that left her feeling very lost. What could she do? She stood up, trembling. Instinctively, Buck extended his other arm to her. "C'mon," he said. As though in a trance, she slipped her arms around his neck and wept. He held her tightly. "I promised him I would look out for you, Casey, and I mean to do that." He paused. "I love him, too, you know." He kissed her forehead.
After a long moment, Peter turned around and faced his family, tears streaming down his face. "I am . . . so sorry." He stepped over to his youngest brother. "Johnny, please forgive me."
John looked tentative. Clearly, he was afraid of his brother. He wished he could just accept this "change" in his brother, but the trust would have to be built. Peter turned to his mother. "Ma . . ." She stood up, and the room stood still. She went over to her son. As she drew close, the man turned his face away in shame. With the gentle hand of a loving mother, she lifted her boy's chin, and tenderly kissed his forehead.
"Oh, Mama, I'm so sorry."
"It's all right, son. You'll make restitution as you can, and you'll let God take the rest."
The reunited Nichols family held onto each other, while the little family from Four Corners tried to pull itself. Only Chris Larabee seemed to be aware of the threat that still remained in the room in the form of Fin's men. So when the taller of the men made a move, he was ready.
"Well, this little seance has been quite a treat, but someone owes us money and we ain't leaving without taking Vin Tanner with us. Dead or alive. Looks like he won't be giving us any trouble."
Chris directed his gun at him. "That ain't gonna happen. He's staying with us." He looked around the room. "And with the change of heart Mr. Nichols has had, I'd say you are grossly outnumbered."
"We aren't leaving' here with nothing to show for it."
Chris Larabee hissed back at them. "Oh, you're leaving all right." He looked up. "Josiah?" The big preacher was right with him, and while Chris tied up the one hired gun, Josiah tied up the other. "You'll get a fair trial, which is more than I can say for any of the folks you've encountered on this trip."
Nathan had knelt beside Vin, ready to defend him any way he could. He'd be damned if he was gonna stand by and let them take this good man who had become his dear friend. He felt a rush of relief as he watched Chris and Josiah easily take down the hired guns.
Peace settled in the sacred space. There was such a strong Presence of God. And everyone knew they could handle whatever they had to.
Buck would be able to bury his brother. Peter would be able to make restitution. Chris would be able to survive his grief. John would learn to trust his brother. Ma Nichols would be able to know God as He intended. Each person would be able to get through this life strong in the knowledge that a better life awaited them. And they would never be alone. God would walk with them, if they would only open their eyes.
Buck eased JD back down on the pallet they had made for him. Casey lay her head on JD's chest. Buck stood beside his bed, and felt a strong, familiar hand on his shoulder. Chris Larabee would always be there for him. Buck could finally let his grief go and Chris pulled his old friend into a close brother's embrace.
Casey's tears wet the front of JD's shirt. Then her tears slowed and she closed her eyes. For a moment it was as though his hand was stroking her hair. No, Buck must be comforting her. Slowly, she opened her eyes. And she saw Buck sobbing on Chris' shoulder. She closed her eyes again. It seemed so real. He had been so hot with fever - now he was cold with death. But, it wasn't death.
Casey opened her eyes. Uncertain of what she felt. Sister Sophia was watching her, a serene smile on her angel-face. Casey listened--eyes closed again. Oh, God. It was there. "Sister," she said first, opening her eyes. She looked closely at JD. Something was . . . so different.
"It's all right, Casey," Chris said, angry at the emotional rollercoaster this poor child had gone through. Now she was going to become hysterical. All of the tears and forgiveness would never change what they had taken from her. The gunslinger looked to Sophia as though she would know how to comfort the girl. But Sophia just smiled and gripped his arm. "Son, don't you know what has happened here?"
"His heart's beating!!" Casey screamed. "Oh, God JD." She stood up, tears streaming down her face. "Look at him!" Buck didn't dare walk over there.
To see this little girl fostering the delusion that JD hadn't died--well, it was more than he could bear. "JD, JD, come on," she kept talking to him. "Look at his face. Look at his eyes. JD?"
Chris was dumbfounded for the first time in his life. He put his hand on Buck's shoulder again and turned him toward the sickbed. Buck's gaze landed on the boy just when the black lashes fluttered and the hazel eyes looked at the little group gathered around him.
"Sweet Jesus," Chris murmured, looking into the face which looked healthy, which no longer bore the frightening stab wounds around the eyes. A face no longer gaunt with death, but hale.
"What's wrong?" JD asked, afraid at the expressions on everyone's face.
"Nothing at all, kid." Buck answered. "Nothing at all."
Nathan heard Casey's words, but couldn't make sense of them. JD alive? That didn't make sense, no sense at all. The healer had cared for that boy these last few hours, seen him falling into the arms of death as surely as the sun falls into night every evening. And yet - Nathan's hand clutched uncontrollably at the tattered, bloody cloth which he held pressed to Vin's wound as he heard those words from across the room:
"What's wrong?" barely a whisper.
"Nothing at all, kid, nothing at all." The awe in Buck's voice washed over the healer like a cool rain, and the room dipped and turned a bit as Nathan began to understand.
A groan startled the healer, and he glanced down into Vin's tired face. Blue eyes drifted open, and color flushed the formerly pale skin as the tracker took a long, deep breath.
"Vin?" Nathan whispered.
Vin winced slightly, then cast a sleepy gaze into the healer's uncertain face. "Damn," he murmured. "Feel like I been trampled by a herd 'a buffalo."
Slowly, gently, Nathan pulled away the cloth he'd used to try to keep the tracker's lifeblood from spilling out of him so quickly. He wiped at the skin of Vin's chest, smearing the drying blood in the process, and exposing a patch of flesh blemished by only the lightest of bruises. No gaping, torn hole, no angry red wound. He hardly heard Vin repeating his name as he stared at the tracker's healed chest.
"Nathan? Hey, Nathan?"
Nathan blinked, felt a grin tugging at his lips as he looked back into a pair of eyes he'd thought he'd never see open in life again.
"Nathan? I gotta talk to Ezra. Where's he at?"
The grin faded as Nathan remembered Ezra. During the strange scene between Peter and JD, Nathan had seen Josiah check on the injured gambler, had caught the ex-preacher's look of anguish as his hand had brushed over Ezra's half-closed eyes.
"Vin," Nathan began, gritting his teeth for a moment as his voice caught in his throat. "Vin, Ezra - well, he -"
Vin smiled a small, odd smile. "That's okay, Nathan. I can wait. I just wanted to ask him about them cards." Vin's eyes closed and his body began to relax as weariness pushed him toward sleep. He continued to mumble, and Nathan had to lean close to hear what he said. "Know he likes gamblin', but sayin' them cards is his brothers? Man can't make sense even when he's dead...."
Nathan shook his head, not caring to try to make sense of Vin's words - he was too overwhelmed by the simple fact that the tracker appeared to have healed in moments from a wound that should have cost him his life. He glanced at the small crowd gathered around JD. The boy was already grumbling at Buck, who had begun to mother him with giddy energy. JD slapped at Buck's hands as the man tried to check his wounds, and snuggled deeper into Casey's arms. Chris and Josiah simply watched the scene, the ex-preacher with reverence, the black-clad gunslinger with eyes full of a strange sadness and wonder.
Nathan rubbed his own wounded arm distractedly; he really ought to tell them about Vin, but his voice had gone somewhere else entirely for the moment.
A hoarse cough startled everyone, and silence fell over the sanctuary as all eyes turned in dumb surprise toward the source of the sound. It occurred to Nathan that he shouldn't be surprised; after all that had happened in the last few minutes, this really shouldn't surprise him. But still, his heart skipped as he watched Ezra's body jerk with another cough, as he saw the gambler raise a trembling hand to his face and sigh.
The gambler's strong, smooth drawl almost echoed in the quiet room as he muttered to himself, "...first breath is always the hardest, I suppose. Good Lord...."
Ezra began to try to raise himself up from where he lay on the cot, but Josiah moved quickly over to him, pressing his hands carefully on the gambler's shoulders.
Josiah grinned broadly, sparing a twinkling glance at Sister Sophia as he said, "Whoa, there. I don't think you should be gettin' up just yet, brother."
Ezra paused at Josiah's words. The terrible bruising and swelling that had marred the gambler's aristocratic features had faded to yellowed blemishes and the pink of healing wounds. His green eyes were bright and free of pain, and they softened as he rested a hand on the ex-preacher's arm.
His voice shook slightly, briefly, full of sincerity as he said, "I appreciate your concern, Josiah," Ezra paused, seeming unsure of how to continue. The ex-preacher watched emotions dance across the gambler's usually guarded features - revelation, gratitude, regret, serenity. Finally Ezra smiled and took a deep breath, rubbing his twinging rib cage. "But, I must insist on arising. I am in dire need of a bath and a shave."
His hands continued to caress his middle as he attempted to rise; as Josiah watched, a sudden expression of realization crossed Ezra's face, and he looked down at where his hand rested across his healed ribs. He stared at his hand for a moment, then slowly lifted it away, his breath coming slightly faster now as what had happened dawned on him.
"Um, Josiah?" he asked, his voice a bare whisper, full of wonder and a little fear.
"Yeah?" the preacher, who couldn't help smiling, replied.
"There is-I seem to be..." Ezra's voice trailed off, and Josiah saw him begin to tremble slightly. It was a few moments before he found words again, their tone quiet and serious as he looked back into Josiah's eyes. "Wasn't I...dead?"
The other man studied him closely. "You don't remember?"
Ezra sighed and leaned back on one elbow, weakly rubbing his forehead. "It all seems...so dim..."
As he spoke, he lifted his eyes to search the room, his words trailing off as his gaze settled on Vin, who was resting nearby, his skin clean and healed beneath the bloody remnants of his shirt. Ezra sat up a little straighter, amazed; then he began to look quickly around the room. He found who he was so desperately looking for, and for a few minutes could only stare silently at JD, sleeping in Casey's arms, well again.
"JD," Ezra whispered in surprise, staring at the young man whom he believed he would never see alive again.
The other man followed his gaze, his voice catching slightly as he spoke words he never expected to say. "Yup, looks like he's gonna be OK."
He heard Ezra let out a quick, joyous gasp, unable to fully believe what he was seeing. "Good Lord," he breathed softly as he turned wide green eyes to his companion.
The other man nodded slowly as he studied the tranquil outcome to their struggle, so different from what he had imagined it would be just a half-hour before. "Yes, my friend," he said gently, "He certainly is."
The sound of muted sobbing caught Ezra's attention; the gambler's gaze now swept through the sanctuary, alighting on Ma Nichols embracing her family.
Josiah saw the gambler tense as he recognized Peter Nichols voicing his contrition to his sympathetic mother. Ezra drew back a bit, his face a mixture of suspicion and anger.
"Shouldn't they be locked up?" he said quietly, his voice anxious and angry as he unconsciously brought one hand up to shield the other protectively.
Josiah patted his shoulder; now would not be a good time for Ezra to get himself all worked up. "Don't think we have to worry about them no more, Ezra."
His friend shook his head, still staring at the small family. "No, you're wrong, Josiah, they're far too dangerous to trust, they-"
He broke off suddenly, and Josiah saw why when he glanced back over at the Nichols; Peter had somehow heard Ezra's voice, had lifted his head from his mother's lap and was looking back at him, his face wet with tears. As the young man stood, Josiah saw Ezra steel himself, one hand instinctively going to grasp the gun he no longer wore.
As Ma Nichols and her other sons, including John, watched, Peter slowly began to walk to where Ezra lay on the cot. As he drew closer the gambler became increasingly anxious, looking to where Chris and Buck were watching with interest but without going for their guns.
"Josiah," Ezra said, in a quick, soft voice as he licked his lips, "you'd best draw your weapon. This monster is capable of anything."
But his companion made no move towards his gun, only watching Peter steadily as he replied, "I believe you're right, Ezra."
Peter came within four or five steps of Ezra and stopped. There was a tense, silent moment, during which the two men stared at each other, Ezra warily, Peter with a less readable expression, sorrow mixed with something close to despair. The arrogant air was gone, and Peter appeared to be exactly what he was-a confused, frightened young man. Josiah stole a glance at Ezra's face, and he could see that the gambler's caution had melted away, and had been replaced by sheer, naked surprise.
"Mister," Peter said in a defeated tone, dropping his eyes top the floor, "I, uh, I'm.." His voice trailed off; then raised his eyes to meet Ezra's, his face a perfect mirror of penitence. "Just...wanted to say...for David's sake...I hope to God you can forgive me one day."
He gazed at Ezra for another moment with the most perfectly miserable expression the gambler had ever seen on another person's face. Then he turned and walked back to his family.
Ezra sat, stunned for a moment, completely confused; John walked forward a step or two and put one arm around Peter, gently steering him back into the arms of his kin. John's eyes met Ezra's for an instant; he gave Ezra a small, relieved smile before turning back to his brother. Ezra was too thrown to move.
"Josiah," he finally whispered in awe, "what happened here?"
Josiah smiled a bit, unashamed of the glistening tears which stood in the corners of his eyes. "What none of us deserved, my friend. Guess you'd call it a miracle."
Ezra seemed extremely confused as he watched Peter Nichols sobbing in his mother's arms. Finally he nodded a bit.
"I certainly would call it that," he said very quietly. He tried to stand again, but suddenly closed his eyes against a rush of dizziness; as he staggered back into Josiah's arms the preacher eased him onto the cot.
"Reckon you'd better take it slow, brother," he chided; Ezra put up little argument, as he massaged his forehead gingerly, his eyes still closed.
Approaching footsteps caused Josiah to turn, and he saw Nathan behind him, shaking his head, his expression relieved and full of amazement. There were tears glistening in the corners of his eyes.
"Ain't never seen nothin' like this, Josiah," he whispered. "JD, he...That boy should be dead right now, but I can't find nothin' wrong with him 'cept a few bruises. An' Vin ain't got a mark on 'im, an' I see Ezra done cheated death too."
They both heard Ezra gasp slightly, and looked down to see him blinking in bleary confusion.
"Vin?" he mumbled.
"Now don't you worry, he's fine, just like you are," Nathan assured him, looking back to where the tracker was sleeping. He turned back to see Ezra slowly nodded his head, desperately fighting his drooping eyelids.
"I know," he muttered, trying to sort something out, even as he was losing consciousness. "But..cards...he was there...and...my father...astonishing..." The words slurred into gentle, even breaths as Ezra drifted off into a deep, peaceful sleep.
"Huh," Nathan grunted quietly. "Sounds like he an' Vin had the same dream."
Josiah sighed in happy weariness as he rose. "After today, brother Nate, that would not surprise me at all."
Nathan nodded thoughtfully, and he and Josiah walked away to the center of the sanctuary. The sun was setting now, and the room was filled with a soft rosy glow, as well as a warm, palpable sensation of tranquility. They joined Chris there, and together the three men surveyed the scene, not quite sure what to make of the unexpected turn of events.
Sister Sophia and Sister Mayven approached, their faces wreathed in gentle smiles. "God has blessed us today," Sophia said in hushed tones.
Chris faced her, mystified. "Can't say I quite know what this all means, Sisters," he confessed, his green eyes wide and grateful. "But I don't think that much matters now that my men are safe."
Sister Mayven's smile widened. "They have God's special interest, it seems, Mr. Larabee. No matter what happens, He will always be beside them."
Chris looked at her a moment, his expression one of relief mixed with skepticism; but finally he swallowed, blinking a bit, and met Sophia's eyes as he whispered a choked, "Thank you."
Sophia chuckled. "I deserve no thanks, Mr. Larabee. It is our Father in heaven who deserves the praise. In light of that, i believe we should leave your friends to their rest, and find somewhere to properly express our gratitude to Him."
With that, Sisters Mayven and Sophia, and the rest of the nuns, moved out of the sanctuary, quietly rustling towards a private area of the mission to meditate and pray.
Chris sighed and looked back at Buck, jerking his head a bit as if to say, coming? Buck met his eyes, but Chris could plainly see from his joyfully overwhelmed expression that he was still trying to grasp the joyful fact that JD was not going to die.
Chris nodded a little, understanding, and the three men left the sanctuary, saying their own private prayers of relief and thanksgiving.
It was over.
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